Except do it a little.
That’s the working philosophy with rehab, and while it may seem to make sense to avoid painful movements completely when they bother us, there’s something at play that can make that a very counterproductive idea.
We’ve spoken on why too much resting when injured can complicate returning to activity. Movement restrictions develop, muscular strength is lost, the tissue might even heal inefficiently.
As well, we talk a lot about avoidance habits being created when in pain. If overhead movements with the shoulder hurt, for instance, it can become habitual to simply never reach for a top shelf for years to come, further deconditioning the joint for future use.
Now this becomes a problem because, as we avoid movement to protect an injury, we actually allow that injury to continue taking a little more away from us as time goes by.
You avoided overhead movements with your shoulder? Now simply up to shoulder height is starting to ache.
You don’t raise past your shoulders now? Now any sideways raise movement pinches.
Stopped moving your arm completely? Well, now your shoulder is meeting that demand.
It doesn’t need to happen like this, however. In a way, a fight back against the pain is often necessary. If the pain threatens to continue taking more movement away from you, then the clear solution is to push back and reclaim it.
We encourage clients to move and exercise through very mild and moderate levels of discomfort. Not because we simply need to “toughen up”, but because that allows us to work at a level that lets the body know where to accommodate and improve without causing a flare up.
This is the basic concept of how we improve physically, not just in active rehab, but in working and exercise in general. A safe level of stress on the body is required to initiate positive changes.
Be smart with an injury. Don’t push it, but maybe push it a bit.